Garnett carries Celtics to 99-95 win over Raptors


Garnett carries Celtics to 99-95 win over Raptors

TORONTO You don't build up the kind of Hall of Fame credentials that Kevin Garnett has without dominating a game or two along the way.
Even at 36, KG still has it in him to be the best player on the floor -- even if he's the oldest.
The Toronto Raptors found that out on Wednesday night as Garnett carried the Celtics to a 99-95 win.
It was his 12-foot fadeaway jumper with less than a minute to play that put the Celtics ahead 96-91 in what eventually turned out to be the game-winning basket.
But the Raptors weren't done.
After cutting Boston's lead to three points, Toronto forced Paul Pierce into a tough off-balance shot that rimmed out. In the scramble for the rebound, it eventually sailed out of bounds off of Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan with 18 seconds to play.
From there, Toronto intentionally fouled Jeff Green who made the second free throw with 17.6 seconds to play that gave the C's a 97-93 lead.
Rudy Gay had two shots around the basket -- both misses -- with the loose ball eventually being rebounded by Courtney Lee who was immediately fouled with 9.8 seconds to play.
Lee made both free throws to finally put the game away.
Boston (25-23) has now five straight, with Wednesday's victory being their first away from the TD Garden.
Garnett was indeed the one that led the way, but not too far behind him was Leandro Barbosa who had 14 points, 12 of which came in the fourth quarter.
After falling behind by 10 points going into the fourth, the Celtics opened the quarter with a 7-0 spurt capped off by a 12-foot pull-up jumper by Jason Terry off a Jeff Green steal.
Toronto called a time-out, well aware that they were looking at yet another second-half collapse, which has been one of the constants with their team all season.
"We have to get better at finishing games off," Toronto big man Amir Johnson said prior to the game.
Toronto had a stretch earlier this year in which they led at the half in nine straight games, but came away losers six times.
Wednesday had the makings of another late-game collapse for the Raptors, and an impressive comeback for the Celtics.
An improbable over the shoulder shot by Garnett plus the free throw, tied the game at 79.
But the Raptors were not willing to concede this one, as they continued to make the most of Boston's mistakes.
After a lay-up by Kyle Lowry off a bad pass by Boston put the Raptors ahead 83-81, it was the Raptor's 26th point off of 13 Celtics turnovers.
After seemingly righting their ways in the second quarter, they reverted back to committing the many miscues that had them in a back-and-fourth tussle with the Raptors earlier in the game.
Specifically, their turnovers.
It wasn't so much that the Celtics had that many.
It's just that when they made a mistake, the Raptors quickly capitalized on it with points of their own.
And making matters worst, Garnett picked up his fourth personal foul with 6:48 to play in the third quarter which immediately sent him to the bench.
Garnett on the sideline is never a good look for the Celtics, especially on a night like Wednesday when he was scoring the ball with such ease.
While his departure was relatively close to when he usually sits, his absence and the absence of anyone filling his void, was apparent.
Within a couple of minutes, Boston saw itself looking up to a 69-65 deficit following a dunk by Andrea Bargnani.
But the Celtics dealt with that adversity in the same manner they have done of late -- deal with it, and after that, get the win.

2017 NBA title odds are out, Celtics rank second in the East


2017 NBA title odds are out, Celtics rank second in the East

Teams are still fighting for the 2016 Larry O’Brien Trophy, but the 2017 NBA title opening odds have already been released by the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. The Warriors unsurprisingly come in as heavy 3/2 favorites. The Cavaliers already punched their ticket for this year’s finals and are second, with 5/2 odds. Then there’s the Spurs, Thunder, and Clippers, as you’d expect rounding off the top five.

But then there’s the Celtics with 20/1 odds -- sixth-best in the NBA -- to raise Banner 18.

With eight draft picks and a chunk of cap space, the Celtics are in a position to capitalize on any opportunities that may come their way. There is a lot of uncertainty at this point in the NBA calendar, so Vegas must be hedging their bets on the Celtics making a leap towards contender status.

Celtics fans will also be happy to know the Nets have 500/1 odds to hoist the trophy next season, which ranks last of all teams. The Celtics have the right to swap first-round picks with the Nets in the 2017 draft, which could give them another swing at a superstar prospect.

For full draft profiles of players the Celtics could draft this year, click here.

Team Opening odds
Golden State Warriors 3/2
Cleveland Cavaliers 5/2
San Antonio Spurs 6/1
Oklahoma City Thunder 8/1
Los Angeles Clippers 16/1
Boston Celtics 20/1
Toronto Raptors 25/1
Miami Heat 25/1
Chicago Bulls 40/1
Atlanta Hawks 40/1
Minnesota Timberwolves 60/1
New Orleans Pelicans 60/1
Houston Rockets 60/1
Portland Trail Blazers 60/1
Memphis Grizzlies 80/1
Utah Jazz 80/1
Charlotte Hornets 80/1
Washington Wizards 100/1
Indiana Pacers 100/1
Dallas Mavericks 100/1
Milwaukee Bucks 100/1
Detroit Pistons 100/1
Los Angeles Lakers 100/1
New York Knicks 100/1
Sacramento Kings 100/1
Philadelphia 76ers 100/1
Orlando Magic 100/1
Denver Nuggets 100/1
Phoenix Suns 300/1
Brooklyn Nets 500/1

Warriors force Game 7 with 108-101 win over Thunder


Warriors force Game 7 with 108-101 win over Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Klay Thompson made a playoff-record 11 3-pointers and scored 41 points, and the defending champion Golden State Warriors forced a seventh game in the Western Conference finals with a 108-101 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night.

Stephen Curry bounced back from a slow start to finish with 29 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.

The Warriors, who set the league's regular-season record with 73 wins, will host Game 7 on Monday. The winner will play Cleveland in the NBA Finals.

Oklahoma City dominated Games 3 and 4 at home, but the Warriors made 21 of 44 3-pointers on Saturday, while Oklahoma City was 3 of 23.

Kevin Durant scored 29 points and Russell Westbrook added 28 for the Thunder. But Durant made just 10 of 31 shots and Westbrook was 10 of 27.

Trying to become the 10th team to overcome a 3-1 deficit, the Warriors trailed much of the game and trailed by eight going to the fourth quarter.

Thompson kept them in it with four 3-pointers in just over seven minutes to start the period. Curry then hit two 3s, the second of which tied the game at 99 with 2:47 to play.

Thompson's 3 with 1:35 to play put the Warriors up 104-101.

The Thunder, who blew a number of fourth-quarter leads during the regular season, fell apart in the final minutes after Golden State had finally gone ahead for good.

Westbrook lost control of the ball, and after Thompson missed a 3, Westbrook turned the ball over again. Curry's layup with 14.3 seconds to play put the Warriors up by five, the Thunder turned it over again, and the Warriors were in the clear.

The Thunder led 23-20 after one quarter, then seized momentum early in the second. Steven Adams' powerful one-handed dunk on Draymond Green drew a roar from the crowd and gave Oklahoma City a 37-28 lead. Green, who had hit Adams in the groin area twice during the series, was a constant target for the vocal Thunder fans.

Thompson opened the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Warriors a 54-53 edge, but the Thunder closed the quarter strong and led 83-75 heading into the fourth.